In Mutant Crawl Classics #3: Incursion of the Ultradimension visited a strange island off the coast, home to a scientific research facility which has been invaded by, guess what, an Incursion of the Ultradimension. It combined a sense of the weird with a hint of Blue Collar Science Fiction Horror a la the 1979 film, Alien. The facility also contained a map indicating the location of other facilities in the time before Terra A.D., which might actually still be found, possibly even found intact, in the here and now of Terra A.D. The location for Mutant Crawl Classics #9: Evil of the Ancients is such facility located on the map. However, it need not be run as a sequel, but simply as an encounter along the way as the Player Characters travel from one place to another. However, it may lose a certain resonance if played as a standalone and playing Mutant Crawl Classics #9: Evil of the Ancients as a sequel to Mutant Crawl Classics #3: Incursion of the Ultradimension will go towards building a sense of a campaign, something that is not necessarily a strong feature of the Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game.
Most scenarios for Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game are a combination of the gonzo and the weird, Science Fiction with an element of fantasy. Mutant Crawl Classics #8: Evil of the Ancients is different in that it is less fantasy and less gonzo, and very much a weird horror scenario. Once the Player Characters descend into the facility, they at first find scenes of death, but the more they explore, they find that these deaths appear to be the result of a manic outbreak of madness and violence. Of course, the apocalypse that brought Terra A.D. into being, killed millions, but in many of the thirteen rooms and corridors underground, the Player Characters will discover signs of the staff having run amok, signs of their not only having inflicted bloody violence, but of have actually committed acts of torture upon each other. The question is, what drove them to act in such a way?
What drove them to act in such a way was an extra-dimensional creature, a thing dragged into this world by the comic researches being conducted at the facility—think the Large Hadron Collider, but significantly more compact—and in its efforts to persuade the scientist to find a way of getting it home, its viral emanations drove the staff mad and they killed each other. Unfortunately, for the Player Characters, it is still trapped, and it still wants to get home, and it will go to any means to make it possible, even if it means sacrificing a sufficiently powerful enough psychic mutant as part of the process. Which means communicating with the Player Characters, which means that just like the facility before them, it means driving the Player Characters crazy! And is something of a problem when it comes to running Mutant Crawl Classics #8: Evil of the Ancients as part of a campaign.
Essentially, Mutant Crawl Classics #9: Evil of the Ancients is a haunted house scenario whose horror is cosmic in nature. Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game is not a horror roleplaying game and does not have a Sanity mechanic a la Call of Cthulhu, but as the Player Characters explore the facility, they will receive—initially, but then eventually suffer echoes of memories of the staff before they died, and then when they died. It is horrific and it is horrible, and worse, the most terrible of memories not only inflict harm on the Player Characters, they also force the Player Characters to inflict harm on both each other and themselves—and that is a big problem.
Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game is not a horror roleplaying game and so does not normally deal with situations in which the Player Characters are trapped in a closed environment and in some cases driven to inflict bloody torture on each other and themselves. In a horror scenario for a horror roleplaying game, this would not be as much of an issue because it is within the remit and the nature of the genre. In the post-apocalyptic genre of the Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game it is not so much. So as consequence, the first issue with the scenario is that it should have included warnings as to its nature and the traumas it entailed. The second issue is that the scenario’s events and traumas are divisive and will see the Player Characters acting against each other—physically and mentally given that this is a scenario for the Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game. Ultimately, this could see the Player Characters killing each other, potentially leading to a ‘Total Party Kill’, and not every group will be happy with this. For such a group, it could break the game or even the group itself! And again, the scenario should have included warnings as to its nature and the traumas it entailed.
However, if the players are happy with the horrific nature of Mutant Crawl Classics #9: Evil of the Ancients, then it is a horrifically atmospheric scenario, its creepiness building and building as the Player Characters encounter memory echo after memory echo and become aware of the true nature of past events in the underground facilities. Ultimately, it is likely to lead to an outbreak of bloody violence amongst themselves, and perhaps their best course of action is to retreat, to count the exploration as at best, a horrifying experience best left unrepeated. Its horrible nature means that it also works as a one-shot, and its short length, means that it could also be played in a single session, possibly as a convention scenario (doing so, would definitely require the warnings that the scenario is sadly lacking).
Lastly, it should be pointed out that Mutant Crawl Classics #9: Evil of the Ancients discusses possible outcomes to the scenario and gives an alternative ending involving a more physical confrontation—rather than the Player Characters running away. An appendix details the viral nature of the threat they will face in the scenario.
Physically, Mutant Crawl Classics #9: Evil of the Ancients is nicely presented. It needs an edit in places, but is generally well written and the artwork involves a lot of the signature characters seen in other Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game titles. The double-page spread map is excellent though.
For all of its issues, Mutant Crawl Classics #9: Evil of the Ancients is a good scenario—creepy and weird, with a growing sense of horror as the Player Characters explore the facility. However, the scenario is also nasty in its horror, and some playing groups are not going to be happy with that and its divisive effects, especially in a game like Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game which normally does not feature either. The Judge is advised to read the scenario carefully and consider its effects on her campaign and her players before running Mutant Crawl Classics #9: Evil of the Ancients, and perhaps if Goodman Games publishes a scenario of a similar nature in the future, advisory warnings might be a good idea.